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Full text of "My Country And My People"

THE   ARTISTIC    LIFE                    275

from the development of Chinese calligraphy as an art. The
strange pleasure derived from contemplating a picture of
barren rocks done in a few strokes and hung on the wall to be
looked at day in and day out—this strange pleasure will
become understandable to the West when the West has under-
stood the artistic principles of Chinese calligraphy. So funda-
mental is the place of calligraphy in Chinese art as a study of
form and rhythm in the abstract that we may say it has provided
the Chinese people with a basic aesthetics, and it is through
calligraphy that the Chinese have learned their basic notions
of line and form. It is therefore impossible to talk about Chinese
art without understanding Chinese calligraphy and its artistic
inspiration. There is, for instance, not one type of Chinese
architecture, whether it be thepailou, the pavilion or the temple,
whose sense of harmony and form is not directly derived from
certain types of Chinese calligraphy.

The position of Chinese calligraphy in the history of the
world's art is thus truly unique. Owing to the use in writing of
the brush, which is more subtle and more responsive than the
pen, calligraphy has been elevated to the true level of an art
on a par with Chinese painting. The Chinese are fully aware
of this when they regard painting and calligraphy as sister
arts, shu-kua, "calligraphy and painting," forming almost an
individual concept and always being mentioned in the same
breath. Should there be a question as to which has a wider
appeal, the answer would undoubtedly be in favour of calli-
graphy. It has thus become an art cultivated with the same
passion and devotion, dignified by as worthy a tradition, and
held in as high esteem as painting itself. Its standards are just
as exacting, and its masters have reached heights as unattain-
able by the common run of men as the masters in other lines.
The great Chinese painters, like Tung Ch'ich'ang and Chao
Mengfu, are usually great calligraphists also. Chao Mengfu
(1254-1322), one of the best known of Chinese painters, said of
his own painting: "Rocks are like thefoipo style of writing [with
hollow lines in the strokes], and the trees are like the chuan style
of writing [with relatively even and twisted strokes]. The
method of painting lies yet in the 'eight fundamental strokes*
of writing. If there is one who can understand this, he will